Is it ever too late to reply to an email? | Oliver Burkeman

Social expectations about digital etiquette have never been more in flux. The solution? Avoid worrying about it altogether

You know you’ve reached a crisis point in your email backlog when you’re obliged – as I was recently – to confront the following conundrum of electronic etiquette: is it ruder to reply to an email after three months than not to reply at all? On one hand, obviously, not replying is obnoxious. On the other, at least it lets the sender imagine that you missed their message entirely, or even that it never arrived; a reply implies, insultingly, that I had three months’ worth of more important things to do first (and/or that I’m hopelessly overwhelmed by emails – which is true, and particularly embarrassing, given that I’ve championed various systems for taming the monster in this very column).

In the end, I opted to reply. But even then I didn’t get closure on the matter, because of course the recipient didn’t say she was offended and, this being email, I had no facial expressions or vocal inflections by which to judge. The internet: helping us understand each other less well since 1969.

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Geneva motor show: Brexit, electric cars and luxury dominate agenda

With sales under pressure, carmakers gather to show off their latest offerings

Carmakers gathering at the annual Geneva motor show this week were hoping the Alpine spring air and customary launches of new models would be a springboard for an industry fightback.

Some of the world’s largest manufacturers have stumbled in the past 12 months, with sales under pressure on various fronts, particularly in Germany’s giant car industry. Ford and Jaguar Land Rover skipped the show after announcing thousands of job cuts in January.

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